A blog post that used a picture of a kapa haka group and called Maori culture "primitive" shows a narrow-minded and ignorant world view, the kapa haka group's leader says.
Treaty Gate blogger John Ansell posted the image of Rotorua kapa haka group Te Maataarae i Oorehu , together with a caption calling Maori culture "primitive".
Ansell was the marketing manager behind the National Party's "Iwi vs Kiwi" election campaign billboard in 2005.
The kapa haka post said primitivism "represents an early phase of human development, long before mankind had achieved civilisation. Primitivism is not preferable to civilisation ... Civilisation has elevated our minds and refined our nature; primitivism bears the stamp of our lowly origins."
Ansell could not be reached by the Herald today but told Maori TV's Te Kaea news programme yesterday he was sorry if he had caused offence, and that the post was criticism rather than racism. The post has now been taken down but not before it was shared widely on social media.
Kapa haka group leader Wetini Mitai-Ngaatai said group members were very unhappy about the use of the image, which showed them taking pride in their culture and connecting to their historical roots.
"We need to know who we are in order to know where we're headed into the future - you must have your own cultural identity. How can you appreciate other people, cultures, races if you don't appreciate yourself?"
Mitai-Ngatai said:"I think his world view is very introverted and narrow ... you can't change people like that."
He added: "If he talks about primitivism, our Maori wars amongst each other were finished long ago, in the 1800s. You look around the world - wars are continuing. It's not us that have caused those wars - so who's primitive?"
Race Relations Commissioner Dame Susan Devoy said the post showed that "Maori New Zealanders continue to face racism, intolerance and ignorance today".
"We encourage New Zealanders to call out these kinds of instances, to take a record of them and to talk openly about whether or not this kind of thing is acceptable in our country," she said.
Ansell told Te Kaea he liked "the more peaceful aspects of Maori culture" and had "no trouble with people celebrating their culture any way they like".
But he considered the post to be criticism, not racism. Ansell said he couldn't remember where he got the photo.